One with the machine. The new BMW M4 Coupé.

The strength of the BMW M4 Coupé is evident in every detail.

Peugeot RCZ is a gorgeous dilemma

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IOL mot mar17 Peugeot RCZ a

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Gorgeous body is now joined by a face tha is easier on the eye.

QUICK TEST: Peugeot RCZ 1.6T

Peugeot's RCZ coupé caused quite a stir in the car world when it hit our shores towards the tail end of 2010 - but it was a beauty with a blemish.

I know I'm not alone in thinking that its front end, with that huge cheesy grin, detracted from its overall beauty, but now that's been rectified with the latest facelift that endows the RCZ with a new face that's much easier on the eye.

The completely re-sculpted front end has a smaller hexagonal grille that salutes Peugeot's latest styling DNA and the curved lower air intake adds extra flavour.

Thankfully Peugeot hasn't toyed with the good parts, which is basically the rest of the car. Here its deeply sculpted flanks and 'double bubble' glass roof continue to turn heads in traffic.

The cabin still has the racy ambience you'd expect after admiring the exterior and you get to sit in race-car-like leather-covered bucket front seats with integrated headrests and pronounced bolsters. Design changes are limited to a few dashes of gloss black lacquer and aluminium embellishments, while a new RT6 infotainment system brings the RCZ into the latest chapter of the electronic age.

IOL mot mar17 Peugeot RCZ b

The RCZ offers strong performance delivered comfortably.

The system features a full-colour screen along with 'perspective view' satnav and Bluetooth connectivity, but it lacks touch-screen functionality and is not as easy to operate as Audi's MMI interface.

On the standard kit front you can also tick dual zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers as well as cruise control.

It's a happy enough situation from the helm, but you'll need the contortioning skills of Houdini to fit into what Peugeot calls 'occasional' back seats - yet that's a fair price to pay for this two-door's beautiful silhoutte isn't it? At least the boot is a reasonable size at 321 litres.

But let's get back to the more enticing RCZ aspects. Fire it up and Peugeot's familiar 1.6-litre turbopetrol is at your service with 147kW and 275Nm. Flatten the loud pedal and the engine entertains with a raspy tone and delivers a more-than-decent shove. It really feels like a proper hot hatch should, but it's still more of a comfortable cruiser than a hooligan's tool. Peugeot has struck a fairly good balance here - it feels comfortable and refined yet it'll attack the corners with competence and you'll enjoy the smooth and solid operation of the driving controls.

VERDICT

Peugeot's 308-based RCZ is a distinctive, head-turning coupé that offers brisk performance and comfortable cruising capability. It's really hard not to like, or even fall in love with for that matter.

IOL mot mar17 Peugeot RCZ c

Interior features a new infotainment system with latest-generation satnav.

But, and this is a very big but, it costs R499 000 - which is very hard to justify when there are coupés offering similar performance for well under R400 000. In fact, a Scirocco R costs 30 grand less and just R20 000 north of the Peugeot is BMW's beastly M235i.

Pity that.

FACTS

Peugeot RCZ 1.6T

Engine: 4-cyl, 1.6-litre turbopetrol

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Power: 147kW @ 4800rpm

Torque: 275Nm @ 1700rpm

0-100km/h (claimed): 7.5 seconds

Top speed (claimed): 240km/h

Consumption (claimed): 6.7 l/100km

Price: R499 000

Warranty: 3-year/100 000km

Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km

ALTERNATIVES

Audi TT Coupé 2.0T (155kW/350Nm) - R472 000

BMW 220i Coupé (135kW/270Nm) - R378 257

Kia Cerato Koup 1.6T (152kW/265Nm) - R334 995

Toyota 86 2.0 High (147kW/205Nm) - R354 600

VW Scirocco 2.0 TSI (155kW/280Nm) - R377 300


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